Van Gilder Hotel
Van Gilder Hotel
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
|Location||307 Adams Street, Seward, Alaska|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Built by||E.L. Van Gilder|
|NRHP Reference #||80004575|
|Added to NRHP||December 2, 1980|
|Designated AHRS||April 15, 1968|
The building was originally constructed as an office by E.L. Van Gilder of Kellogg, Idaho, who decided to invest in the Alaska Territory. Van Gilder purchased the property adjacent to the Seward bank for $4,000 in February 1916. He obtained supplies in Idaho, and then returned to Seward via the steamer Evans with his wife and daughter. Construction for the two-story structure with an excavated basement began in May 1916. In addition to offices, the building would have meeting halls for local organizations. During construction, Van Gilder decided to add a third story to the building. Extra construction costs and a poor economy forced Van Gilder to sell the building shortly after it was completed. The new building was purchased by Charles Brown, a partner in the Brown & Hawkins Store in Seward.
The Van Gilders planned to return to the states and travelled to Ketchikan, Alaska via boat. While in the town waiting for the boat to leave, Van Gilder and his wife Sarah were both offered jobs. They stayed for a year and earned money to invest in business in St. Helens, Oregon.
Rooms and Guests
Upon completion, the first and second floors contained 27 rooms, while the basement had seven. The third floor held a Masonic and Odd Fellows lodge rooms, as well as meeting space for the Christian Scientists and the Seward Women's Club. Tenants on the lower floor included the law firm Morford & Finnigan, a doctor, and the Alaska Importing Company. The basement held offices for the Gateway Newspaper. The newspaper was the second in Alaska to join the Associated Press and had been called the second-largest paper in Alaska in 1915.
In early 1921 the building was converted to apartments. Joe Badger, who came to Alaska from Chelsea, Massachusetts during the gold rush in Nome, served as manager. Badger took over ownership in September, and had the building converted again, this time to serve as a hotel. Early guests to the hotel included salesman, railroad, and government officials including Austin E. Lathrop, a prominent Alaskan industrialist. In 1923 when Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. president to visit the territory, many of the executives stayed in the Van Gilder.
In 1924, Seward and the Van Gilder were a stop for the Army Air Service team that made the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe. The four pilots and their crews landed their Douglas World Cruiser aircraft—the Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, and Seattle—in Resurrection Bay. The event was the first time many of the 1,000 residents saw an airplane.
Ownership passed hands several more times, and the hotel was known as "Hotel Renwald" during parts of the 1950s and 1960s. For a time the building was leased to the state and served as a dormitory for the Seward Skills Center. When the state's lease expired in 1978 the building was refurbished and has served as a hotel since.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "The History of the Van Gilder Hotel". Van Gilder Hotel. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- "Van Gilder Hotel". Seward Historic Preservation Commission. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. AK-45-D, "Van Gilder Hotel, Seward, Kenai Peninsula Borough, AK"